Included, engaged and involved part 2: preventing and managing school exclusions

Part two of guidance document 'Included, Engaged and Involved', which refreshes the national policy on school exclusions.

Section 2 - Background

This section focuses on the background and context of exclusion.

The power to exclude rests with education authorities under regulation 4 of the Schools General (Scotland) Regulations 1975 as amended [8] . The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 [9] also places a duty on education authorities to make appropriate education provision when a child or young person is excluded. The power to exclude, and make appropriate provision during exclusion, can be devolved by education authorities to senior management within a school. The education authority ultimately remains responsible for the education of all children and young people within their establishments, including those who have been removed from the register of a school (see Section 8 for further detail).

There has been a drop in exclusion rates since 2011 when the original 'Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: a positive approach to managing school exclusions' was published. Figures published in December 2015 were at their lowest since national statistics were first collated in 1998/99. The rate of exclusions per 1,000 pupils has continued to fall to 27.2 in 2014/15 compared with 32.8 in 2012/13. Removals from register have also dropped significantly over this period with only five recorded in 2014/15, which has dropped from 60 in 2011/12. Further information on national statistics on exclusions can be found in Annex D.

The overall drop in school exclusions reflects the focus schools and education authorities have placed on developing a whole school ethos; promoting inclusion; and developing positive relationships and behaviour. It also reflects the commitment of staff, as well as the use of staged intervention and approaches to keeping children and young people included, engaged and involved in their education. This also reflects the policy guidance within 'Better Relationships, Better Learning and Better Behaviour' [10] which was published in March 2013 as a direct response to the ongoing 'Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research' [11] .

Evidence shows that the exclusion levels of those groups most likely to be excluded are decreasing but the gaps between those with risk factors (refer to Section 7) and those without remain. National statistics on exclusions from schools indicate that children and young people are more likely to be excluded where they:

  • are assessed or declared as having a disability;
  • are looked after;
  • are from the most deprived areas;
  • have an additional support need ( ASN); and
  • have an additional support need that has been identified as social, emotional and behavioural.

Prior to 2010, only pupils with Co-ordinated Support Plans, Individualised Educational Programmes or who were attending a special school were recorded as having an additional support need. However, in 2010 this was extended to include anyone receiving additional support. This has led to a large increase in the number of pupils recorded with additional support needs since 2010. This reflects the widening definition of additional support need to include social, emotional and behavioural needs ( SEBN), or specific life events, such as bereavement.


Email: Douglas Forrester

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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